Will-o’-Wisp and Natural invisibility


Rules Questions


I've experienced an issue concerning the Will-o'Wisp a few times, and I would appreciate it if people could weight in. There is a strong disagreement, and I'm hoping this thread can be useful to settle the matter.

Will-o'-Wisp states that it has Natural invisibility in it's Defensive Abilities.

Stat block for it's Natural invisibility wrote:
Natural Invisibility (Ex) Will-o’-wisps have the ability to extinguish their natural glow as a move action, effectively becoming invisible, as per the spell.

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Universal Monster rules
Natural Invisibility (Ex or Su) wrote:

This ability is constant—the creature remains invisible at all times, even when attacking. As this ability is inherent, it is not subject to the invisibility purge spell.

Format: natural invisibility; Location: Defensive Abilities.

I know there are many creatures that have things listed in their stat block that you can refer to the rules in the Universal Monster Rules, but in their stat block they write out unique things. Do you ignore what specific things are listed in their stat block and go with the Universal rule, or do you follow their specific text in their stat block?

In this matter specifically does the Will-o'-wisp

1. stay invisible for the end of time by never shining light once it uses its ability?

2. The creature is never visible in the first place because it is always invisible, and it is the glow that turns on and off by using a move action and on the conditions of the invisibility spell (hostile actions turn it visible again etc.) the glow will return?

3. The creature is visible and glows, but as a move action can turn invisible as per the spell (hostile actions turn it visible again etc.) while extinguishing it's light?


If a monster has a specific rule you should follow that rule. Much like the dragons bite attack you add strength and a half to damage instead of just straight strength.


Technically the Will-o-wisp is only visible when it lights up. It has no visible form, all you ever see is the light unless you use see invisibility, or some spell that allows you to see invisible creatures. Invisibility Purge doesn't work because that just dispels invisibility, which doesn't reveal naturally invisible creatures because they don't have a natural form that can be seen.


It has natural invisibility as per the universal monster rules, the specific text just modifies that to allow the glow to be turned on and off.


according to this FAQ will-o-wisps specifically are affected by invisibility purge.

edit: I had a response based on what seems to be old information. I have therefore removed my response until I've had a chance to figure out how the revised ability works. It looks like the invisible stalker's form of natural invisibility has become the norm instead of the exception. not sure when this happened since I know the last time I looked at the ability was at least 6 months ago if not longer.

Even the FAQ I quoted suggests that the invisible stalker is an exception not the rule.


Xenocrat, if it is just like the universal monster ability, then how can it possibly ever become visible again?


This new wording seems to come from bestiary 5. Earlier incarnations of natural invisibility treated it as an activated ability that otherwise functioned as invisibility.

The two creatures in bestiary 5 that have the ability, also specify in their description blocks that their form of invisibility doesn't turn off when they attack and that they are not subject to invisibility purge.

This change makes will-o-wisps much more powerful then they used to be. As other's have said will-o-wisps are now flying invisible stalkers. Their CR should probably be increased to reflect this change.


Human Fighter wrote:
Xenocrat, if it is just like the universal monster ability, then how can it possibly ever become visible again?

The only thing I can say is that the will-o-wisp invisibility specifically calls out that it works as per the spell invisibility meaning it follows all the guidelines of the spell instead of the universal monster ability.


LordKallas, you'd be agreeing with my 3rd option I believe, correct?

Move action it essentially does the spell Invisibility, and can at will preform this.


Human Fighter wrote:

LordKallas, you'd be agreeing with my 3rd option I believe, correct?

Move action it essentially does the spell Invisibility, and can at will preform this.

correct, this is the way it was treated (as per the FAQ) before natural invisibility was defined as a universal monster ability.


Only problem I see with the FAQ is that the reasoning is that it specifically states in the rules text of the Invisible Stalker that they aren't subject to invisibility purge.

Originally Will-o'-wisp didn't have "Natural Invisibility" in their defensive spot, or originally that wasn't a defined Universal Monster Rule? I would it find it very convincing if originally you just referred to the monsters specific rules without the Universal rules existing yet.


Human Fighter wrote:

Only problem I see with the FAQ is that the reasoning is that it specifically states in the rules text of the Invisible Stalker that they aren't subject to invisibility purge.

Originally Will-o'-wisp didn't have "Natural Invisibility" in their defensive spot, or originally that wasn't a defined Universal Monster Rule? I would it find it very convincing if originally you just referred to the monsters specific rules without the Universal rules existing yet.

Natural invisibility was not defined in the universal monster rules of bestiary 1. It only shows up in two places in that book, will-o-wisp and invisible stalker. The stat blocks for these creatures doesn't seem to have changed since that original printing.


Pre-pathfinder versions of Will-o'-wisp couldn't turn off their light. They were the light. Pathfinder changed that. Which turns a CR+2 encounter with Will-o'-wisp into a deadly encounter unless you hand out scrolls of see invisibility and a wand of glitterdust before the party runs into them.

You need both because Pathfinder's wisps are nearly immune to magic as well. Anyone that can cast see invis has a really tough time killing them until they are below your CR.


Meirril wrote:

Pre-pathfinder versions of Will-o'-wisp couldn't turn off their light. They were the light. Pathfinder changed that. Which turns a CR+2 encounter with Will-o'-wisp into a deadly encounter unless you hand out scrolls of see invisibility and a wand of glitterdust before the party runs into them.

You need both because Pathfinder's wisps are nearly immune to magic as well. Anyone that can cast see invis has a really tough time killing them until they are below your CR.

it must of been the 3.0 versions that couldn't turn off their lights since I remember the 2nd edition ones could.

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